For me, fall means FOOTBALL!!! It’s an especially good bright spot this year. Since my son is no longer playing college ball, we have “adopted” a couple of players from a local university. It’s so they have a family away from home. This week, I’m making them some of my son’s favorite snacks and a bag of spirit swag for their families. This momma makes NOISE at games, so I’m pretty well-known for having my cowbell. I’m putting some in the guys’ bags so thought it would be a good project to share.
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- Cowbell — I got mine at Walmart, but you can find them on Amazon here (paid link). It is possible to spray paint your bell to get the right color before you put on the vinyl. You just need to be sure to let the paint fully cure before you do or the vinyl isn’t going to stay put long term.
- Vinyl — Good, ol’ Oracal 631 (paid link) or the Silhouette Brand work great. I had some 651 in the right color laying around so that’s what I’m using and I kinda like the glossy look of it. This is a good project for using up a few scraps.
- Transfer Media — I like transfer paper (paid link)but transfer tape works as well.
- Weeding tool — My favorite ones are this set from Harbor Freight. They are cheap and work great!
- Pencil (optional)
- Painter’s Tape — This is optional, but it’s a great help in getting the decal onto the bell straight. If you don’t always keep some in your craft room, you should. Washi tape works, too.
Before we go any farther, let me remind you that you CANNOT sell items with a school’s logo unless you have a license or written permission.
I like to put the player’s name and number on the bell, along with the school’s mascot/logo and maybe a saying. Here’s the cowbell I used for 3 years when my son played:
And here are the ones I created today:
Let’s get you ready to be a master bell-ringer too!
Step 1: Measure the cowbell
Use your ruler to measure the available area on your cowbell.
It works best if your vinyl doesn’t go around a curve. It stays on better that way. I kid you not — I’m a very, um, aggressive bell-ringer so I really need the vinyl to stay put.
Step 2: Create a design
Make a shape to mimic the bell
In Silhouette Studio, I create a simple shape to mimic the area on the cowbell that I just measured. It helps me visualize the design and get it the correct size. My cowbell is white, but if yours isn’t then fill the shape with that color.
HINT: If you have Designer Edition Plus and up, you can use the Flexishapes to draw a trapezoid.
You may be wondering how to get the angle correct. Nope — we don’t have to go back to Geometry class. Here’s what I did–
- Made the trapezoid.
- Adjusted the height to what I measured on my cowbell.
- Made the width measurement the size of the lower part of the cowbell (so the longer edge).
- Drew a small rectangle above the trapezoid and made it the size of the top of the bell area.
- Made sure the rectangle and trapezoid were centered.
- Used the red control point to move the upper left and upper right corners of the trapezoid to meet the corners of the rectangle. Using those moves them both the same amount at the same time. If you don’t have Flexishapes, use point editing. You can also use point editing if you prefer to just slide the points over with your arrow keys on your computer. When you use the control points, they move up and down and well as side to side. So, point editing might be preferable — just depends on you.
Add the School design
This time, I’m using the logo for BYU. I got a pic of the logo online and did a simple trace. Then I released the compound path to separate the parts. I did that for 2 reasons–
- The Y turned out pretty good, but I did do a 1-click clean-up by clicking Simplify in the point editing menu.
- For a known shape like an oval, it’s always better to use the drawing tools. I deleted the outer oval and used the drawing tools to make one of my own.
Look at the comparison of the points on each before and after–
I then did some manual point clean up on the Y. The fewer the points there are, the smoother and faster the cut will be. For some reason, the current software version is creating LOTS of points on traced images so I’m doing lots of this right now. Plus, I like to make sure the straight line segments are really flat. You can learn all about point editing in my series on it beginning here.
At this point, I centered by Y inside the oval by using the Centralize option and made them into a single compound path. When I do that, I can fill it with color and see through to the bell. Since part of the logo is white, my plan is to let the white of the bell show through instead of layering 2 pieces of vinyl.
I added my wording and played around with the layout until I liked it. Once I had it, I made sure to center everything along the vertical center and grouped them. I did NOT group the trapezoid with the design. That’s only for planning purposes — we don’t need to cut it.
Don’t forget that you’ll want to put your design on both sides of your cowbell. Make a second copy before you cut. And if you’re doing it for multiple players like I am, add more as needed.
Step 3: Cut and weed the vinyl
If you’re using scraps, put your vinyl pieces on the mat. If you’re doing it off a roll, you can cut without the mat like I prefer. To learn more about cutting without the mat, check out my series starting here. If you’ve never cut vinyl before, you might want to look over some beginner vinyl lessons starting here.
Weed out your background pieces so you’re left with only your design.
Step 4: Apply the decal to the cowbell
It’s time to put this spirit swag together! Apply the transfer media over your vinyl.
I then like to draw 2 lines (one of the reasons I prefer the paper transfer stuff). One is a vertical line so I can match it vertically on the center of the cowbell. The horizontal line helps me keep it level as I use the bottom of the cowbell for a guide. Be sure you’re marking the center of the design, not the center of the transfer paper (yep — learned that on my very first vinyl project).
HINT: Trim your piece into a trapezoid so it’s not hanging past the edge at the top of the cowbell.
Use your painter’s tape to temporarily hold the decal on the cowbell. Be sure to not cover up those pencil marks. Then you can measure and move it around until it’s centered and straight.
Use the hinge method to apply your vinyl. If you don’t know what that means, check out this post. It’s got step by step instructions and lots of pictures. It also has some helpful weeding tips.
Repeat on the other side of the cowbell.
As I said, I’m a pretty active bell-ringer and my vinyl stayed on for 3 years. If you have any trouble with yours staying, it’s perfectly fine to spray a clear coat over it.
Step 5: More cowbell!!!
You’re all ready to cheer on your favorite player! Ring it loud and proud!
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